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Hacked police blogger Richard Horton wins Times damages
An anonymous police blogger, whose identity was revealed after journalists at the Times hacked his email, has been awarded £42,500 ($68,000) in damages.
9 October, 2012 BBC NEWS
The News International newspaper named detective Richard Horton as Nightjack's author in 2009 after the High Court refused to grant him anonymity.
NI will pay damages and legal costs.
Mr Horton was issued a warning by his employers Lancashire Constabulary after his award-winning blog exposed the realities of modern-day policing.
Mark Lewis, the lawyer representing Mr Horton, said despite the large financial settlement, "nothing can undo" the intrusion into his private life.
In a statement to the New Statesman magazine, Mr Horton said he was "happy to have settled" with the newspaper.
"I can now put that incident behind me and get on with my life," he added.
The Lancashire detective sued the newspaper for damages for breach of confidence, misuse of public information and deceit.
He was given a written warning by senior officers, who said parts of his public commentary "fell short of the standards of professional behaviour expected of its police officers".
The Times revealed his identity after the High Court decided not to award Mr Horton an injunction, preventing the publication of his identity.
However, the court was not told at the time that the information was, in part, gathered via email hacking.
Mr Lewis confirmed a settlement had been reached, although could not comment further as police are still investigating the actions of the Times journalist as part of Operation Tuleta, Scotland Yard's ongoing inquiry into email hacking by the media.
He said: "Although a substantial financial settlement has been achieved there is nothing that can undo the effect of the intrusion in the first place."
In his blog, Mr Horton chronicled his work as a detective in an unnamed UK town with descriptions of local criminals and his struggle with police bureaucracy.
It won the Orwell Prize for blogging in 2009, but he has not written since his identity was exposed.
The Times Editor, James Harding, apologised for the incident while giving evidence at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards in April 2012.
£42,500 damages payout from The Times newspaper for NightJack blogger Richard Horton.
9 Oct 2012 Sam Chadderton
Lancashire detective Richard Horton, was exposed by The Times as the author of the anonymous NightJack police blog when a reporter hacked into his personal email account in 2009 (13 April 2012).
The costs to be paid by The Times, which are yet to be confirmed, are expected to be six figures, The Lawyer understands.
Horton claimed aggravated and exemplary damages from Times Newspapers for breach of confidence, misuse of private information and deceit.
Reed has been involved in several phone-hacking cases including acting for former footballer Paul Gascoigne, actor Steve Coogan and politician George Galloway in phone-hacking claims against the News of the World and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Last year it emerged that former The Times reporter Patrick Foster had admitted to bosses that he had hacked into Horton’s private email account before publication and that the paper had not made the High Court aware of that when it succeeded in overturning an injunction preventing it from naming NightJack.
A criminal investigation is ongoing. Alastair Brett, the former legal chief at The Times, has been interviewed under caution by police investigating allegations of computer hacking in relation to the NightJack case (21 September 2012). He is being represented by Corker Binning associate Anna Rothwell.
In an article published in today’s The Times, the paper confirmed it had agreed to pay Horton damages plus legal costs.
The email hacking emerged in evidence given by The Times editor James Harding to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.
Richard Horton, author of police blog, sued after reporter unlawfully accessed his email while trying to reveal his identity
Josh Halliday guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 October 2012
Horton said in a statement to the New Statesman: "I am happy to have settled with the Times and I can now put that incident behind me and get on with my life".
Times Newspapers will pay Horton £42,500 plus his legal costs. The publisher will read a statement in open court later in October.
The £42,500 damages payout is believed to be high compared to standard payouts for breach of confidence and misuse of private information.
There is also an ongoing criminal investigation into the matter. A journalist has been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act and suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The civil claim for breach of confidence and misuse of private information relates directly to the alleged breach of Horton's email account; the claim for deceit means damage caused by dishonesty and is understood to relate to a witness statement submitted to court by the Times.
The email hacking only came to light in January when Simon Toms, the interim director of legal affairs at News International, the parent company of Times Newspapers, referred in his Leveson inquiry witness statement to the incident.
The Times had not returned a request for comment
Former Times journalist arrested by police investigating computer hacking
Arrest of Patrick Foster understood to be related to unmasking of NightJack blogger by the Times in 2009
Josh Halliday guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 29 August 2012 10.27 BST
The former Times journalist Patrick Foster has been arrested by Metropolitan police detectives investigating computer hacking.
Foster was arrested at his home address in north London early on Wednesday morning. The Met said the arrest related to suspected offences under the Computer Misuse Act and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Scotland Yard added that the arrest related to the "identification of a previously anonymous blogger in 2009". The blogger is understood to be Richard Horton, a police constable who was unmasked by the Times as the man behind the NightJack blog in 2009.
The arrested individual was being questioned at a north London police station on Wednesday morning. He was later released on bail to a date in late November, Scotland Yard said.
Wednesday's arrest is the first by Scotland Yard's Operation Tuleta investigation into computer hacking that relates specifically to the NightJack case.
Horton was unmasked as the NightJack blogger in July 2009. Horton's blog, which won the prestigious Orwell prize for its descriptions of a PC's life, was then closed down and he was reprimanded by his police superiors.
Foster is a former graduate trainee at the Times. He left the paper in 2011 and has since written freelance articles for the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian.
The NightJack affair resurfaced in February at the Leveson inquiry into press ethics. James Harding, the editor of the Times, and the paper's former legal manager, Alastair Brett, gave evidence to the inquiry over the identification of Horton as NightJack.
Horton is now suing the publisher of the Times, News International subsidiary Times Newspapers, for breach of confidence, misuse of private information and deceit.
The Lancashire detective's claims all arise from the alleged unlawful accessing of his email account in May 2009.
Salted Slug Rewinds Nightjack’s original blog
At the time of linking, Salted Slug had a shedload of missing images but at least most of the text, which is something
Nightjack: an arrest is made
Officers from Operation Tuleta arrest Patrick Foster.
By David Allen Green Published 29 August 2012
Earlier this year, the New Statesman investigated the 2009 outing of the “NightJack” police blogger by the Times newspaper.
Over a sequence of blogposts it was shown that there had been interference with the blogger’s email account and that the High Court had, in effect, been misled.
Today brings the news that there has now been an arrest in respect of the outing. The arrest was at dawn by the Metropolitan Police “Operation Tuleta” team investigating alleged computer hacking by newspapers, and the person arrested is the former Times reporter Patrick Foster. He was arrested for both suspected offences under Computer Misuse Act and suspected conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. (Also see this excellent post at Brown Moses on Operation Tuleta.)
I understand there will also be an arrest of another former Times employee in the days to come, though that will be by appointment at a police station. (It is not clear why there is any operational justification for a dramatic dawn arrest in a case like this – the alleged hacking was three years ago.)
The arrest today is against other legal backdrops to do with the outing. First there is the on-going civil action brought by the blogger himself, Richard Horton, against the Times for breach of privacy and deceit. Second there is the impending report of the Leveson Inquiry, where both the James Harding, the editor of the Times, and Alastair Brett, the former legal director of the newspaper, were both closely questioned about the incident. And it has also been reported Brett is also facing an investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
It is not clear how any of these various proceedings will affect the criminal investigation, and vice versa. It will certainly make it complicated.
Due process must now take its course, and every arrested person has the benefit of the presumption of innocence. It is a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service whether there is any charge, and a matter for a court whether there is any criminal liability. None of this can or should be prejudged in individual cases.
However, as the New Statesman investigation revealed, the wrongful outing of the NightJack blogger was never just about individuals.
The wrongful outing of the NightJack blogger was a systemic and managerial failure, and not the fault of any one person.
David Allen Green is legal correspondent of the New Statesman
Former Times reporter Patrick Foster held over hacking
Campaign to identify anonymous police blogger NightJack comes back to haunt newspaper
Ian Burrell Thursday 30 August 2012
The prospect of Scotland Yard carrying out an investigation at the offices of The Times increased yesterday with the arrest of the newspaper's former media correspondent over suspected computer hacking.
Patrick Foster was arrested at his home in north London by officers investigating suspected offences under the Computer Misuse Act and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The arrest is in relation to the publication by The Times of the identification of Richard Horton as the author of an anonymous but award-winning police blog called NightJack. The paper unmasked Horton as a serving Lancashire detective in 2009, leading to his being disciplined by the force.
Mr Foster, who had offered to co-operate with any police inquiry, was questioned yesterday at a London police station but is understood not yet to have been charged with any offence. He was released on bail last night.
The development is worrying for the editor of The Times, James Harding, who in February apologised to a High Court judge for the paper's failure to disclose that a reporter had hacked into the email of the police blogger.
Mr Harding told Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media standards that he "sorely regrets the intrusion into Richard Horton's account by a journalist then in our newsroom". He added: "I am sure Mr Horton and many other people expect better of The Times and so do I. So on behalf of the paper, I apologise."
Mr Harding's handling of the NightJack story was described as "disappointing" by Rupert Murdoch during the media baron's own evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. Mr Murdoch, whose News Corp media empire owns The Times, told the inquiry he was "appalled" that the paper's legal team had misled a High Court hearing that was considering an attempt by the police officer to prevent publication of his identity. "I am appalled that the lawyer misled the court and disappointed that the editor published the story," he said. Mr Foster has not been asked to give evidence to Leveson.
Horton is suing Times Newspapers, citing breach of confidence, misuse of private information and deceit. He was unmasked in 2009 after winning the Orwell Prize for his evocative writing about the challenges and social conditions encountered by working police officers on the streets of Lancashire.
Mr Foster, 28, is the 11th person to be arrested as part of Scotland Yard's Operation Tuleta into computer hacking, which is running in parallel with Operation Weeting (into phone hacking) and Operation Elvedon (into corrupt payments to public officials). The journalist, who is the first person to be arrested in relation to the NightJack affair, is a former Times graduate trai- nee who after parting company with the paper went on to work extensively for The Guardian.
NightJack blog: How the Times silenced the voice of valuable frontline reporter
Newspaper's quest to reveal the identity of police blogger NightJack has done the country a disservice, says Orwell Prize director Jean Seaton
June 2009 Guardian Newspaper
As soon as the High Court ruled yesterday that police blogger NightJack could be named , the Times triumphantly did so. An earlier injunction, which perhaps was to let an ordinary bobby not equipped with the press defence equipment of a celebrity have time to prepare for the onslaught, was overturned. The Press Complaints Commission to which he had appealed had provided no assistance at all.
We hope that Detective Constable Richard Horton won't lose his job, although he has been through what may be one of the fastest disciplinary processes in police history and been given a written reprimand. He has already been doorstepped by photographers and his award-winning blog has disappeared – and a window that had opened on to the way in which policeman go about their work, bristling with insights into contemporary Britain, has been slammed shut.
In a rather Orwellian way, history is being rewritten – it is as if it had never existed. Horton won the Orwell Prize for blogging because in an increasingly competitive field he offered such a distinct voice. And because it took you to the heart of policing in a gripping way: it was old-fashioned reporting but in the new time frame of an unfolding story. In particular it reeked of somewhere local, regional, a particular part of Britain as well as the particular place of being a policeman.
The Orwell Prize judges – Jenny Abramsky, Ian Jack, Ferdinand Mount and Geoffrey Wheatcroft – pounced on this blog: it was, indeed, in the public interest and fulfilled Orwell's ambition "to turn political writing into an art".Before Horton's entry to the prize went forward we did, in fact, check rather carefully that he was what he said he was. He did not come to the prize giving, and the money went to the Police Benevolent Fund (I saw the cheque being made out).
Blogging anonymity has to be tested in various ways. But, surely what matters is the accuracy and insight of the information. No one has disputed what this blog said: it was not illegal, it was not malicious. Indeed, in a world where local reporting is withering away as the economic model for supporting it disappears, we know less and less about our non-metropolitan selves and this lack of attention will surely lead to corruption. So this blog was a very good example of reporting bubbling up from a new place.
What is puzzling is the Times attack. The paper has made an intelligent use of blogs, and has been good at fighting the use of the courts to close down expression. NightJack was a source and a reporter. They would not (I hope) reveal their sources in court. Even odder is their main accusation against him: that the blog revealed material about identifiable court cases. The blog did not do this – cases were disguised. However, once the Times had published Horton's name then, of course, it is easy to find the cases he was involved with. The Times has shut down a voice.
Blogs as a form are no more reliable or "true" than any other kind of journalism. That is why we started a blog prize – to try to help people to find the interesting ones. This decision damages our capacity to understand ourselves just when we need new forms to develop. After Tuesday's ruling, would you blog about your workplace?
Wednesday, 17 June 2009 Jon Slattery
NightJack says good-bye
NightJack, the policeman blogger outed after he lost a legal battle with The Times to protect his anonymity,
has written a piece which is on TimesOnline about his award winning bog - and why he isn't blogging any more.
The policeman, Detective Richard Horton, writes: "One morning I heard a rumour that The Times had sent a photographer to my home. Later in the afternoon came the inevitable phone calls from The Times, first to me and then to Lancashire Constabulary asking for confirmation that I was the author of the NightJack blog. That was easily the worst afternoon of my life.
"I knew that it was serious and quite rightly my employers have investigated it as a matter of misconduct. With that under way, I went to court to stop The Times from publishing my name, my photograph or any personal details about my home and my family.
"Over the years, I have dealt with some unpleasant characters. I know that some of them have made determined but unsuccessful efforts to find me and I believe that some of them are still looking. I didn’t want their task made easier. I also wanted to provide some breathing space for my employers so that they could try to limit the damage that my exposure will do to their deserved reputation as one of the best police forces in the country. In the event, I failed at court as it was decided that the public right to know about me outweighed any claim to personal privacy.
"My blog is gone now, deleted, slowly melting away post by post as it drops off the edge of the Google cache. .. I deeply and bitterly regret the damage that will be done to the reputation of Lancashire Constabulary, that is also down to me. Next to that, my own career prospects are trivial."